COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Democrat Hillary Clinton entered the final two-week sprint to Election Day by rallying voters Tuesday in the battleground state of Florida — urging them to vote early and vote against her Republican opponent Donald Trump, whom she cast as a “serious” threat to democracy.
“On January 20th the first thing a president does is take an oath to preserve, protect and uphold the Constitution, and I have serious doubts whether Donald Trump understands what that means,” Clinton told more than 1,700 supporters gathered for a rally on the campus of Broward College.
Clinton railed against Trump for refusing to say at last week’s presidential debate that he would respect the results of the Nov. 8 election, calling his response “horrifying,” and “unprecedented” for a presidential candidate.
“After spending his entire campaign attacking one group of Americans after another — immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, women, POWs, Muslims, people with disabilities — now his final target is democracy itself,” Clinton said.
Trump, who has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and poll rigging, has said he would only accept the election results outright if he wins.
Clinton arrived in South Florida, a day before her 69th birthday, leading Trump, by an average of 3.8 points in the latest Florida polls, according to the poll tracking website Real Clear Politics.
At the top of her speech, the crowd surprised Clinton by singing “Happy Birthday,” prompting her to quip: “That last debate was like an early birthday present right?”
The former secretary of state’s campaign aides have said winning Florida, and its 29 Electoral College votes, is a “big priority” for the campaign, and they have blitzed the state with big-name surrogates in the past week before Monday’s launch of early voting.
Clinton’s cavalry of surrogates in the past week included former President Bill Clinton, who led a multicity bus tour and President Barack Obama, who headlined a rally in Miami Gardens last Thursday. Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine also barnstormed the state with four rallies on Sunday and Monday.
Obama will return Friday for an Orlando appearance and on Saturday, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez will perform at a free “Get Out The Vote” concert in Miami.
Trump was also in the state Tuesday looking to shore up support by hosting campaign rallies in the Central Florida suburb of Sanford, and in the state capital of Tallahassee in North Florida.
Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said the campaign was confident it had enough “paths” to secure the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the election, but said Florida still remained a critical target.
“If we win Florida then it is very difficult for Trump to have a conceivable path to victory,” Palmieri told reporters aboard Clinton’s campaign plane en route to Florida “ . . . it’s the biggest prize and it’s a big priority for us.”
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll said Clinton has pulled ahead of Trump in Florida with a boost from independent voters.
“She is winning the battle for independent voters and holding her lead among women, nonwhite voters and her Democratic base,” Brown said.
On Wednesday, Clinton will hold events in West Palm Beach and Tampa, before heading to North Carolina on Thursday for a joint campaign appearance with first lady Michelle Obama.